a hand holding a needle containing a vaccine

Addressing Scotland’s skills gap in Advanced Therapies with a second upskilling course this May

After identifying a shortage of skills in advanced therapy and vaccine manufacturing in Scotland, Edinburgh Napier’s School of Applied Sciences teamed up with Charles Rover Laboratories last January and ran a short course for students and recent graduates interested in the topic.

The five-day programme – which formed part of the UK’s Advanced Therapies Skills Training Network (ATSTN) – was highly successful, with three of the graduates already being offered full-time employment in the Lifesciences industry. And the good news, the course is returning this May to train another cohort of interested participants.

Dr Claire Garden, Associate Professor in the School of Applied Sciences, says: “Advanced Therapies offer enormous potential and promise to protect our society from current and future diseases, but when the UK government conducted research with companies in 2019, 83% were concerned about their ability to capitalise on emerging opportunities because skills anticipated to be essential were – at that time – missing. With our industry skills focus and partnership with key employers, recognised in our recent reaccreditation by the Royal Society of Biology, we have the track record to continue bringing this training to a wide audience.”

On the course, students learn about Good Laboratory Practice and are supplied with theoretical knowledge, including sterile manufacturing and the development and production of Advanced Therapies. In addition, they gain practical skills that allow for entering the Advanced Therapies workforce, such as cell culture and immunoassay techniques, and lab auditing; and learn about the quality and regulatory environment as well as the Good Manufacturing Practice within an industrial setting.

Carmen Martel – a student from the first cohort shared her experiences with us, stating, “Through the ATSTN advanced therapies course I got to experience how an industry laboratory operates and it helped me decide whether that was the industry I wanted to work in. It also put me in contact with valuable people in the field and helped me secure a job even before graduating.”

Another student, Petra Ceresnikova told us, “Having the opportunity to participate in the ATSTN course allowed me to act more confidently in the skills that I build over the years of studies. The environment of the course, the experience of the industrial work, and the very welcoming and supportive staff inspired me to try and apply for a job at Charles River laboratories. Before, I would hesitate, however, this course gave me an inside into what the job would be, together with skills needed and increased confidence in my technical performance.”

ATSTN was launched in 2020 and operates through three centres, two in England and one in Scotland. Edinburgh Napier is the only university in Scotland to be a member of ATSTN. This week, the School of Applied Sciences will partner once again with RoslinCT, SULSA (the Scottish Universities Life Sciences Alliance), the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre, and Ayrshire College to deliver this bespoke and highly targeted training programme.

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